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Top 10 Stories That Brought You Joy In 2021

A group of people link arms in celebration around the pole of a New Year's Eve ball drop. The ball above them glows with an "LAist" logo in this illustration.
2021 was another long one, but we all did manage to find some joy together.
(Alborz Kamalizad
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I can remember when my mom had enough of only bad news. 

My mom, myself, and a rotating cast of three other siblings had a pretty set routine on weeknights. At 6:30 PM, the big national news would come on, the hold music ahead of what we were all waiting for, Jeopardy at 7 PM.

One day, our regular station was replaced, courtesy of the clicker.

My mom was, in short, tired. She said that she felt overwhelmed, blanketed in the deluge of depressing news and constant gloom. 

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I’m sure that raising four kids solo did not contribute to that exhaustion in the slightest.

It was time for a change, a switch to a network that ended every broadcast with something sweet, a reminder to the viewer that, yes, everything is not awful all the time. 

In that same spirit, we bring you this list. To argue that 2021 was some sort of grand step forward in the evolution of human happiness would be folly. 

There was a whole lot of bad news this year, necessary news, don’t get me wrong, but heavy on one side of the scale. As the person that compiled this list based on our most-read stories, I’ll be honest with you, it took some digging before I got to the first article one could objectively deem “joyous.”

So, let’s end the year on a good note. Here are the top ten stories that brought you joy in 2021.

Disneyland drinking
Between Disneyland, California Adventure, the Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel and Downtown Disney, it's never been easier to find an adult libation at the theme park.
(Photo collage by Elina Shatkin. Photos of drinks by Malinda Castaneda. Blue Bayou photo by Steven Miller/Flickr. )

Drinking At Disneyland? Here's Everything Boozy You Can Have At The Park — And At California Adventure And Downtown Disney, Too

  • It used to be exclusive, tucked behind the doors of Club 33. Now it's been democratized. Drinking at Disney has never been easier30 bars, lounges, and kiosks are slinging suds in all shapes and sizes, from Boozy Dole Whips for the traditionalists to Fuzzy Tauntauns for cosmic travelers from a galaxy far, far away. 
  • "Not long ago, the notion of drinking inside Disneyland was a pipe dream, more improbable than firing Idina Menzel for a third installment in the Frozen franchise," writes Melinda Castaneda. 
Ocean waves seem lighted up at night
Laguna Beach, March 2021.
(Courtesy Mark Girardeau / Orange County Outdoors)

It's Back! Bioluminescent Algae Glows Again Off Southern California's Coast

  • It's brackish. It's brilliant. It's bioluminescent algae. In March, folks in Southern California had a solid shot of kicking up some of the stuff if they troubled the waters along the Orange County coast. 
  • "The turbulence that's stirring up those cells is what's turning on a chemical reaction that gives you a light show," Executive Director of the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System Clarissa Anderson told our newsroom's local news and culture show Take Two. 
Nine donuts in varying colors, decorations and flavors, and one donut has a bite taken out of it.
An assortment of colorful donuts.
(Lore Schodts/Unsplash)

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30 Of LA's Best Donut Shops

  • As a not-so-wise man named after a wise man once said, "Mmm...donuts."
  • "Donuts, those ubiquitous fried dough confections, are a lot like Donuts, the 2006 album by legendary Detroit producer J Dilla — deceptively small, fits in the palm of your hand and packs a ridiculously addictive punch. Los Angeles is the mecca of doughy dreams and chocolate-glazed wishes," writes Scott T. Sterling. "From Santa Monica to Downey, we boast some of the finest donut specimens in the world."
(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

LA’s Park To Playa Trail: After 20 Years You Can Now Hike From Crenshaw To The Beach

  • It's a trek to the coast twenty years in the making. The Park to Playa trail routes the rambling ambler aiming to get a varied taste of the city on a path from the Crenshaw District to the ocean at Playa Del Rey.
  • "The trail has several sections, each with its own charms and attractions, starting with the urban trail running along the Stocker Corridor, sloping up to the spectacular viewpoints of the Baldwin Hills Overlook, and following the landscaped bike path that runs alongside Ballona Creek to the Pacific," writes infrastructure reporter Sharon McNary. 
Bobcat kittens B-379, B-380, and B-381 in their tree den.
(Joanne Moriarty)

Meet LA’s Newest Bobcat Kittens

  • A trio of tiny trunk-dwelling bobcats stole our hearts in May. The three felines, named B-379, B-380, and B-381, took up residence in a tree likely due to the damage done to the area by the 2018 Woolsey Fire. 
  • "I swear she’s in this tree, but I can’t find her,” Biologist Joanne Moriarty remembers saying at the time. “Then I look up into this little tiny hole in the tree, and her face is just poking out at me. Of course, she’s been staring at me the whole time. I just happened to be in the right spot.”
A dog holds a sign during a pre-game pup parade for "Pups at the Park" before the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on April 14, 2018.
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea
Getty Images)

Meet Your New Dodger Dog.

  • Hold the phone. You're telling me that they changed the mince in the meat cylinders at Dodger Stadium? What's next, the Staples Center being renamed? 
  • "We're proud to entrust the legacy of the Dodger Dog to Papa Cantella's, a family-owned, local manufacturer with a reputation for superior quality products," a Dodgers marketing executive wrote in a statement. 
Tres leches cake from Versailles Cuban restaurant.
(Elina Shatkin
For LAist)

7 Exceptional Tres Leches In Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles is a land of plenty when it comes to tres leches. The ever-popular dessert is, in short(cake), sponge cake saturated in whole, condensed, and evaporated milk. 
  • "There's no such thing as a perfect tres leche. When we say that, we don't mean the tres leche hasn't achieved perfection," writes Sean L. Malin. "We mean there's no single tres leche that represents the dessert's Platonic ideal." 
  • In absence of perfection, the city provides a leche landscape just short of heaven, the land of angels and their food cake. 
P-22 photographed during a re-collaring on Feb. 12, 2021 (Courtesy of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area)

P-22, The Famous Mountain Lion Of Griffith Park, Checks Out Healthy At 11 Years Old

  • A 50-mile-trip traversing both the 101 and the 405 might make a novice driver shake in their boots. But one brave traveler managed it without a car or opposable thumbs. 
  • P-22, a mountain lion who took up residence in Griffith Park in 2012, turned 11 in March. And he is as hearty as ever. 
  • "He looks good for an old cat," says Jeff Sikich, a biologist with the National Park Service's Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. "For as much as we can tell from the work-up we give these animals for that hour we have them in our hands, he appeared healthy and fine."
A wide shot of a man in a plaid shirt and blue jeans standing inside an empty bar, next to a wooden bar
Michel Bordagary, the last resident of the Centro Basco boarding house in Chino, stands beside the establishment's bar.
(Al Kamalizad
For LAist)

The Last Resident Of Chino's Last Basque Boarding House Hangs On To Tradition

Three kinds of pizza.
(Unleashed Agency/Unsplash)

The LAist Pizzapedia, Vol. 1: An In-Depth Guide To LA's Many Varieties of Pizza And Where To Find Them

  • Los Angeles isn't New York. Jay Leno made a career of pointing this out. The pair of metropolises seesaw on every point imaginable, but ultimately, it's okay to give a win when a win is due. New York has better pizza. And that's okay! At LAist, we take a textured approach to the holy flatbreads.
  • "What has happened, however, is a broadening of our collective pizza consciousness," writes Ben Mesirow. "Round or square, thick or thin, hot or cold, old school or futuristic, subtle or flamboyant, emerging from a restaurant, truck, car, house, wagon or damn near anywhere else, the full spectrum of pizza permutations has opened our minds." 
  • Go ahead and switch the style up. Pizza with origins from Sicily to Chicago and everywhere in between are available to you in L.A. You just need the right guide at your disposal. 

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